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Is RFID Being Used in Public Schools?

Posted By RFID Journal, 03.17.2014

If so, can you please provide some examples?

—Name withheld


Yes, it is. In fact, one of the finalists for this year's RFID Journal Awards—being presented next month at RFID Journal LIVE! 2014, in Orlando, Fla.—is Idaho's Skyview High School (see Finalists Unveiled for Eighth Annual RFID Journal Awards). There are several applications for RFID in schools. One is for security, which is what Skyview is using the technology for (see Idaho School Installs RTLS to Make Students Safer).

New Jersey's Belleville Public School District is another example (see New Jersey Schools Adopt RFID to Secure Their Facilities). The idea is to be able to locate each student in real time. That way, in the event of an emergency, students can be evacuated and administrators can know with 100 percent certainty that everyone has left the building—or where students are located within the facility, if a lockdown occurs.

Another application is for tracking attendance. Typically, schools in the United States receive federal or state aid based on attendance. Being able to verify that attendance figures are accurate is important, so using RFID allows administrators to ensure that attendance is taken and is always accurate. Northside Independent School District, in Texas, announced plans in 2012 to track students on two of its campuses using RFID transponders embedded in their student identification cards (see Students Will Be Tracked via Chips in IDs).

There are other applications as well besides tracking students. The Blue Springs School District has installed passive 125 kHz RFID tags on 147 school buses, equipping drivers and mechanics with handheld RFID interrogators to read those tags. The Electronic Vehicle Inspection Report system (EVIR), from Zonar Systems, is designed to confirm that vehicles have been properly checked before being put into use. Each day, at the beginning of their shifts, drivers inspect their assigned buses to make sure all equipment and mechanics are operating properly. The inspections are part of state-mandated and federally mandated checks to ensure transportation safety. Until now, the district's drivers performed the inspections manually, filling out forms on clipboards and turning them in at the end of their shifts (see Missouri School District Puts RFID on Buses)

Connecticut's New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) has installed an RFID system at its John C. Daniels Elementary School, in order to provide visibility of its laptops, as well as sense temperature changes in withits data closets and computer lab (see New Haven Public Schools Keeps Tabs on Laptops).

The use of RFID in schools has been controversial, as some organizations, such as Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), believe that tracking students' locations—or making technology that could be used to do so—infringes on their privacy (CASPIAN's Position Paper on RFID's Use Within Schools). If you are considering having children wear RFID tags, either for safety or for attendance or both, I recommend that you consult with parents, explain the reason for doing so and then provide a lot of education about your tagging plans before launching the system.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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